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Differences between the Orthodox and Protestant Christians

Orthodox vs Protestant Christian

Christianity was void of denominations up until the 11th century, however as a result of the ‘Great Schism’ the Christian church was divided into the Eastern Church and western church. The western church was the original (Catholic) church while the Eastern Church came to be known as Orthodox Church. The second major division resulted from a Protest in 1529 which the Lutheran princes gave in to the diet of spires and the followers of this sect began to be known as the Protestants (Wylie 1).

The fundamental reasons for the emergence of the Christian sects were the difference in the interpretation of the Christian texts and the manner of conducting the services (Walter 30). Both denominations consider the 39 books of the old testament and the 27 books of the New testament as their bible however the orthodox also accept a collection of books called the Deut erocanonicalsÀ (i.e. a second canon of scripture) which the Protestants do not consider to be a divinely inspired scripture and call it Apocrypha (Greek: ‘Hidden Things’)(Walter 31). The authority of church is another point of disagreement between the two denominations. The protestants believe that the divine authority only comes from the 66 books of the Bible alone while on the flip side of the coin, the orthodox Christians consider the ‘holy tradition’ of the church to be divinely inspired along with the Bible.

Furthermore, the rank and the position of Mary are also debated by the two sects. The orthodox believe Mary to be Theotokos, the bearer of god, and emphasize that Mary was a virgin and she is venerated however unlike Catholics the orthodox reject the idea of Immaculate Conception. On the other hand the protestant consider Mary to be a holy woman but they reject the idea of her perpetual virginity. They claim that the veneration of Mary as done by Orthodox or Catholics is not Biblical in nature (Bonagura). The concept of salvation is also different in the two sects. The orthodox associate the concept of deification with salvation and believe that salvation is a process through which man’s body and soul is deified and the complete deification does not take place till the last day. They argue that salvation is available to all people and all humans can potentially manifest signs of a spiritual unity with the Holy Trinity (Davies-Stofka).  Although the Protestants also believe in the day of judgment (the last day) when all the humans will be resurrected but they accentuate that salvation is not just an experience for the afterlife; it is a journey that gradually results into transformation into the likeness of the Christ and filling of the Holy spirit (Vial). Another related point of disagreement is regarding purgatory. The Orthodox acknowledge the existence of an intermediary stage between this life and the afterlife, however the Protestants reject the existence of any such intermediate stage between earth and heavens (Vial).

Moreover, Icons play a very central role in the Christian Orthodox belief framework to the extent that it is impossible to understand the Orthodox teachings without studying the icons. Icon is a Greek word meaning Image, and these icons are of sacred personalities including Jesus, Mary and the saints (Davies-Stofka). These images take the center spot in the churches and are venerated. Protestants on the contrary do not invoke saints, venerate them or use icons and the most common symbol is the empty cross which could be found in abundance in their churches.

To sum up the arguments, although there are only small differences between the two denominations but these small differences have led to a major disagreement and division within the Christian community. Orthodox and Protestant Christians differ in terms of their beliefs, practices, symbolism and religious understanding. Many of their concepts including that of salvation, position of Mary, authority of church, saint veneration and importance of Apocrypha are markedly different in the two denominations.

Main differences:

  • Orthodox Christianity originated in the 11th century and the Protestantism in the 16th century.

  • Orthodox Christians consider Apocrypha as divinely inspired and important- Protestants don’t.

  • The Orthodox consider the ‘Holy tradition’ of the church to be divinely inspired along with the Bible but the Protestants only consider Bible as divinely inspired.

  • The Orthodox Christians consider Mary to be the bearer of god and a virgin. While the Protestants disagree.

  • The belief of salivation differs significantly. Orthodox Christians have the concept of deification and purgatory while the Protestants reject both.

  • The Orthodox Christians venerate saints and Icons play an important part in their religious belief framework while the Protestants reject both ideas.


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    1. hahahahha..even in pauls day there were DIVISIONS among rhe churches
      several of the books of the new testament specifically ADDRESSED the problems of the 7 brands of churches that he was aware of at that time

      and that was in the first 30 years of the church…
      by the 11th century there were hundreds of different christian churches

      there were 6 different popes in the middle east..

      as far as the rest of the article is concerned ..where to start…

      catholics and protestants agree DOCTRINALLY on about 99% of everything

      mother mary..many protestants believe the same as catholics..many catholics believe the way many protestants are portrayed in this article..there is NO way to distinguish between the two beliefs…most ,98%, DOCTRINES of the catholic church and protestant churches use the EXACT same words to explain this..no differences

      purgatory…catholics and protestants believe the EXACT same things on this subject….catholics use the term purgatory which protestants use for HELL… the BIBLE uses the term hades..but this too has been vilified as hell..but both camps believe that there is a WAITING PLACE between earth and heaven or a lower heaven, of peace and joy, not of fire and brimstone , until this earth age is finished….

      saints and praying to saints..protestants believe a born againn christian has BECOME a saint and catholics believe sainthood is after death and revered sainthood for special people..not much of a difference..all become saints

      salvation is the SAME for both branches..i cant even conceive how you got that wrong

      icons ..yes many catholics pray to icons and pray to saints..but many protestants pray to angels and to other wrongful but GOOD beings..both are wrong..these are TRADITIONS and not doctines

      be blessed

      • Dr johnny. Do you have a faith?
        Which one?
        I have studied religion,scripture and denominational differences. Your understanding of the church is yours alone. I think there are VERY few that will agree with your exposition here. But temember. Just like yours. Its my opinion.

    2. This is a horrendously ill researched article.

      The first lie (whether of ignorance or of intent) comes in the very first paragraph.

      The western church was the original (catholic) church while the eastern church came to be known as the orthodox church.”

      ANY well researched history of the Church will repudiate such a lie. The Church was one NOT under a single head, NOR limited to the West, but was united in consiliarity under 5 equal Patriarchates – Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch. If ANY church of those is to be considered “original” it would be Jerusalem and Antioch whose founding and apostolic succession pre-dates any others. The very fact that all of the other Patriarchates sided against Rome when IT split away from the Orthodox Catholic faith. To say the Western Church was the “original church” just shows the bias and ignorance inherent in the article.

      For a true history see –



      Orthodox Catholicism DOES NOT have an origin in the 11th century, but in the 1st century, at Pentecost. It is not even correct to claim the Roman Catholicism has an origin in the 11th century per se – when it split from the Orthodox Catholic faith. Both have the SAME origins – but one has not remained Orthodox, embracing both heresy and worldly power as elements of faith.

      The belief of “salivation” differs significantly.

      So far as I know neither the Orthodox or Protestant Churches have doctrines regarding “salivation,” though both do have doctrines of salvation.

    3. the orthodox and catholic churches are more similar than protestant and catholic because of many thing including fasting food and the icons. Maybe a protestant don’t like to enter an orthodox church but a catholic can

    4. This is WRONG! The Orthodox Church is the original church Jesus has established for 2000 years ago. The Catholic Church is the one which was originated in the 11 century. Please study about the Orthodox Church correctly.

      • Really? Where does the Bible says about the sermons that the Orthodox church has? Has Jesus ever done any of these? Or has ever Jesus said that Mary is above all saints? Only God is really a saint .

      • Please study correctly orthodox church is2000 years ago the Catholic church is 1054

      • What is your definition of “orthodox church”?
        The church is the body of Jesus.
        The body of Jesus is the believers in Jesus as personal Lord and saviour! Any traditions. Prayers. Or sainthood added to a persons name is something man did!
        Plain and simple. If the bible doesnt say it. ITS MAN MADE!!

        • The bible is also man made. You can not be 100% certain what was 1000 or 2000 years ago and you can’t deny that.
          Is the Bible historically accurate? Do we have the correct books in the Bible today? Hasn’t the Bible been changed by men over time?

    5. Stop using orthodox to define christian. Time has taught us there are too many doctrines. So. You are either a Christian(follower of Jesus) or something else. Whethere you use the word christian to define the other doctrines is greatly debatable!

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    References :

    [0]Davies-Stofka, Beth. "Eastern Orthodoxy- Afterlife and Salvation." Afterlife and Salvation. Patheos, n.d. Web. 02 July 2013. .

    [1]Hallam, Gregory. "Comparison between Orthodoxy, Protestantism & Roman Catholicism." Christianity in View. N.p., 26 Sept. 2011. Web. 2 July 2013. .

    [2]"An Orthodox View of the Virgin Mary." An Orthodox View of the Virgin Mary. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2013. .

    [3]Vial, Ted. "Protestantism - Afterlife and Salvation." Afterlife and Salvation. Patheos, n.d. Web. 02 July 2013. .

    [4]Walter, Hazen. Inside Christianity(e-book). N.p.: Lorenz Educational, 2012. Google Books. Google. Web. 2 July 2013.

    [5]Wylie, James A. The History of Protestantism. N.p.: Hartland Publications, 2003. Google Books. Web. 02 July 2013. .

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